Stepped up enforcement of Stay-at-Home and social distancing orders has people being arrested throughout the United States.
It is very important to understand that these “Stay-at-Home” orders give police (and a myriad of other law enforcement officials) PROBABLE CAUSE to stop you. Once stopped by law enforcement, they can begin to investigate for other potential crimes. It’s the Stay-at-Home order that opens the door.
Increased enforcement is clearly beginning around the country. Ten days ago, there were no reports of arrests related to enforcement of Stay-at-Home orders. But take a look at a sampling of arrests directly related to enforcement of Stay-at-Home orders over the last 48 hours:
- Hawaii – 5 arrested, 70 cited
- Maryland – 2 arrested yesterday
- Florida – 2 church pastors arrested, several individuals
- New Jersey – Several wedding participants and churchgoers arrested
- New York – dozens of citations, a few arrests
- Kentucky – 4 being monitored with ankle bracelets
- …at least 6 more states reporting 2 or more arrests
Austin’s mayor stated early on that making arrests related to Stay-at-Home orders would be the last resort. He reiterated that this week in response to the growing complaints of individuals violating his Order. It’s been reported, and we have firsthand knowledge, that the Austin Police were stopping individuals in the beginning days of the Stay-at-Home Order. One client was asked where he was going, what type of work he performed, and if he was aware of the mayor’s orders…this was 2 pm. He was then asked to perform field sobriety tests then arrested for “suspicion of DWI.” He doesn’t dispute that he had a beer at lunch, but he vehemently denies being drunk. Would have he been stopped if there wasn’t a Stay-at-Home order?
Pressure is mounting around the US for a nationwide Stay-at-Home order. Cases of coronavirus are rapidly increasing with new Texas counties reporting cases every day. The mayor seems to want to avoid the public perception of a police state, but it is clear that other cities and states have determined that it was time to step up enforcement and start making arrests.
Check out the cases of coronavirus in Austin-area counties:
- Bastrop: 10
- Bexar: 229
- Caldwell: 1
- Comal: 12
- Guadalupe: 20
- Hays: 42
- Travis: 305
- Williamson: 55
Numbers of cases are increasing rapidly, and law enforcement is being pressured to make examples to get people to take this seriously. Essential businesses are open, but many local places are closed down or only offering limited options so there are fewer people on the roads. Every person out there may be a larger target for police.
We recently published a post discussing harsher punishments during a declaration of emergency and now we are going to dive into what type of crimes have increased during this time.
Maintaining a Nuisance – committing to any public nuisance and not stopping or removing the cause of this problem… charged as a misdemeanor.
Weddings should be joyful occasions that end with loved ones breaking it down on the dancefloor. Unfortunately, newlyweds in New Jersey ended their wedding night being arrested for maintaining a nuisance. This certain couple chose not to heed the request given by the state to “restrict large gatherings” by continuing with their wedding during a declared emergency.
Misdemeanor Breach of Peace aka Disturbing the Peace: a criminal offense when an individual conducts unruly behavior, compromising someone’s right to quiet, peace, health, or safety.
A supposedly healthy doctor at the University of Connecticut Health Center proceeded to cough on colleagues while working. Acting with disregard for safety precautions and social distancing resulted in him being arrested for a breach of peace.
Terroristic Threat: a threat to commit a violent crime or cause an injury to another person or property.
This certainly isn’t the only story starring a guilty party spreading germs to others. Examples showcasing this behavior keep rolling in. A man in Missouri took it a step further by videotaping himself licking products in a Walmart. After posting this video, he was arrested for making a terroristic threat in the second degree. If he is convicted of this crime, he faces a fine and up to four years in prison.
Another example of using coronavirus in a terroristic threat took place in a Pennsylvania grocery store. A woman informed employees that she was sick then intentionally coughed and spat on $35,000 worth of merchandise. After committing this act, she then tried to steal a 12-pack of beer. She was charged with felony counts of terroristic threats, threats to use a “biological agent” and faces misdemeanor counts of criminal attempt to commit retail theft and disorderly conduct.
Yes, you can be charged with making a terroristic or criminal threat if you claim that you have the coronavirus then deliberately try to infect others. There is no doubt that spreading the coronavirus would result in harm to someone else. The United States’ Attorney General’s office officially declared the coronavirus to be a “biological agent.” A biological agent may be bacteria, fungi, toxins, or viruses. Terroristic Threat cases can be charged as a Class B Misdemeanor, a Class A Misdemeanor, a State Jail Felony, or a Third-Degree Felony punishable by 180 days to no more than 10 years in jail and/or a fine from $2,000 to not more than $10,000.
The United States isn’t the only country that has been cracking down on individuals threatening others with the coronavirus.
Assaults on Emergency Workers: an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that relates to attacks against emergency workers (especially officers), punishable by a fine, up to 12 months in prison, or both.
In the UK, a woman suspected of driving under the influence was pulled over then exhaled in the officer’s face while claiming that she has coronavirus. She was arrested for being drunk and disorderly then arrested for assaulting an emergency worker after she behaved in that manner.
We have only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to crimes being committed amidst this questionable time. In Turkmenistan, you might be arrested for even saying the word “coronavirus.”
In times of emergency, things drastically change…including criminal charges. Take the necessary steps to protect you and your family. Avoid putting yourself in a position to be arrested at all costs. If you or someone you know is arrested, contact us immediately to discuss the options. We believe that there’s always a legitimate argument to be made on your behalf and can almost always find a pathway to dismissal for cases relating to this.
Stay home. Be safe. Make smart decisions! If you must go out, remember to not invade anyone’s personal bubble.